For Digbeth Dining Club‘s sixth birthday, they decided to celebrate with an epic clash of the titans. Heavyweights of the Birmingham street food scene took to the arena (Digbeth Arena, to be exact) to fight it out with some of the very best of the London street food offering from Kerb. Why just put on another dining club when you can have a street food battle for the ages?
In the blue corner, Kerb. Kerb have street food markets all over London, including set-ups in Camden, King’s Cross and Paddington. Like our own DDC, they’re all about the best food, drink and music their city has to offer.
In the red corner, Digbeth Dining Club. Did they have a home match advantage? Who cares; they’re multi-award-winning and just darn fantastic.
let the street food battle commence
I’m at DDC a lot, so in a traitorous fashion, I decided to stick mostly with traders from Kerb, so I could try as much new food as possible.
We kicked off with some Halloumi Fries from Oli Baba’s, who claim to be the original creators of my favourite cheese based snack. The cheese is deep fried, of course, and then loaded with pomegranate molasses, za’atar yogurt, sumac, pomegranate seeds, mint and chilli honey. The toppings make for a real flavour bomb, with all kinds of spicy-sweet-salty goodness going on. I did find the fries themselves a smidge dry though, I confess. I prefer a ‘meatier’ piece of halloumi and I think this helps keep things moist.
Next, Makatcha, for Beef Rendang. The beef in this dish is slow cooked for eight hours, and then pulled, making it unbelievably tender. The rendang has warm background spice, and bags of flavour, with well-cooked, fluffy rice. A definite highlight.
Despite side-eye from a suspicious fiance, I insisted we try the Father Jack from Biff’s Jack Shack. They sling, and I quote, ‘filthy vegan junk food’, using jack fruit to cleverly create the sort of huge, dripping burgers usually reserved for the meat eaters. The burger was massive, and very tasty. The jack fruit patty brings some sweetness to the whole thing, without actually tasting like dessert. Dave actually declared this his dish of the day, so I think we can call that a winner. Biff’s also do jack fruit ‘wings’, that I’m very curious about, and I need to try them.
Onto Smokin’ Lotus, where we tried the Soft Shell Crab Bao. The crab was massive, with lots of good crunch. You can adjust the toppings to your own taste, which is great. I recommend the pickled chilli. Sweet with gentle heat, this added some zing to an already delicious dish. This was my favourite of the day.
Lastly from Kerb, we hit STAKEhaus, an all female team making amazing steak and chips. We chose The Classic One, which is a 5oz steak, with garlic butter, and rosemary french fries. The fries were crisp and salty, and the steak was just amazing. Tender, flavoursome and perfectly pink inside.
Finally, we returned to more familiar ground for something sweet to finish the day, with a Caramac Waffle from Bourneville Waffle Company. The traditional dutch waffle is loaded with cream, pieces of Caramac and chunks of chocolate. I’m glad we shared, or this would have been too much for my lack of sweet tooth, but it was so good. The waffle is sweet and tasty, and the ideal vessel for shovelling chocolatey delights into your face.
We might have eaten mostly London, but of course, we voted Birmingham. Kerb and their traders came to play, but honestly? For me, there’s no contest in this street food battle. BHX will always do it better.
Disclosure: We paid for entry and everything we ate and drank in full. All words, images and opinions are my own. Read my full disclosure policy here.